Cruises make for a great family vacation, but not every cruise line is created equal. Some are better than others due to the nature of their amenities and offerings, so take the time, do the research, and find the one that best fits what you hope to achieve during your family vacation.
Remember, if you are planning a family cruise vacation, it’s very important to research cruise lines’ children’s amenities and policies. There are lines that cater especially to families with children’s amenities and programs; there are others that allow but don’t promote travel with young children; and there are even some cruise lines that categorically discourage (or have policies against) bringing young children aboard. You need to keep this in mind if you want to make an informed booking decision.
Here are some general points to consider:
- Six months is generally the minimum age for cruising with children on most lines; but expect it to be twelve months on transatlantic and other select voyages.
- The cruise lines vary their minimum age to cruise; the lines vary from six months at the low end to twelve years at the high end.
- The majority of cruise lines offer children’s programs or amenities in some form, but several do not. Make sure you do your research!
- Those lines that offer children’s activity programs generally begin them at age two, but lines may start as young as age one, or as old as age five.
- Babysitting services are available on some, but not all, lines. Parents should expect to pay premium price for these services in most cases. If you prefer that your children have personal attention, another option is to bring along a nanny who can help to entertain and supervise your kids. That way, you can travel together as a family yet still also enjoy some relaxing, adult vacation time.
- Traveling on a budget? Here are some things to consider.
- Once you choose a line, take a look at the age of the ship. Brand new ships are likely to have a higher price tag than their older counterparts. With the way cruise lines upgrade their vessels on an ongoing basis, even a five-year-old ship will have amazing amenities.
- Cruise lines see a bump in family bookings during summer and school holidays, so if you can swing it, try to cruise in the off-season: there are substantial savings on offer when demand is lower. “Wave Season” runs from the first of January until the end of March, and often has the best pricing of the year.
- Use an agent. This is a big one that some people overlook in our technology-driven age. There’s nothing wrong with doing your own online shopping and comparisons. But before you book, contact a travel agent and see what a difference they can make. They know when and where to look for the best deals, and they’re privy to perks and specials that aren’t available to the general public. Remember: a travel agent, especially one who specializes in cruises, knows the industry inside and out in a way that the rest of us probably never will.
And remember: Always confirm all this information with your travel agent when you book your cruise; cruise line policies can change suddenly and without notice.
We hope you’ve found the information included in this guide helpful in making an informed choice about your next family cruise vacation! If you should have questions about any of these programs, please email us at Renee@AllThingsCruise.com.
If you would like help booking the cruise that best matches your budget and needs, please visit CruiseCompete.com.